Tsampa Keyboard font

Platform: Any platform which supports True Type fonts (Windows, Linux etc.). There is a separate package for Macintosh.
Current version: 1.11
Released on: 27 June 2003, documentation update 18 August 2005
License: GNU Lesser General Public License

Tsampa Keyboard is a true type Tibetan font which can be used directly from the keyboard without any external drivers or software. Simply change the font to Tsampa Keyboard and type away in Wylie transliteration. This lack of external dependencies makes it suitable for older applications, programs which can't handle input macros, programs which only allow one font (non-Unicode Tibetan fonts are commonly divided into several font files), or where constant cutting and pasting from a Tibetan wordprocessor is unfeasible. One example of a program where the font really excels is SuperMemo. The modular nature of the font imposed by the keyboard mapping means that the font would probably not be your first choice when printing books or leaflets, unless dictated by circumstance (for example, database printouts).

This page gives a quick overview of the font; if you would rather dive straight into the full documentation the pdf manual is right here (requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader). The manual is also included in the download.

How the keyboard mapping works

The idea of a keyboard Tibetan font is not mine; the idea started brewing after I first saw the freeware font -chan sometimes in the late 90s. Tsampa Keyboard was born not out of necessity, but out of the challenge of making a keyboard font that would make less typographic sacrifices. I found an early prototype of my main Tibetan typeface adequate for my needs, which I dissected in 2001 to produce this font. The keyboard map has been somewhat reworked to allow better typography (for example, includes both high and low zhabs kyu vowels instead of a catch-all version) and basic Tibetanized Sanskrit.

The general input principle is simple: typing straight Wylie outputs the corresponding Tibetan script.

bod yig input example

Since there are eleven root letters in Wylie that use more than one letter (kha, nga, cha, nya, tha, pha, tsa, tsha, dza, zha, sha) they have to be mapped to other keys. It is mainly these that have to be memorized for fluent input. Below is an example of nya which is mapped to f:

gnyis input example

Another modification to Wylie is that the built-in a chung vowel is not inputted, since the a key is reserved for the actual a chung glyph. Stacking is intuitive: hold down the SHIFT key when stacking.

rgyal input example

Tsampa Keyboard also contains the basic building blocks for Tibetanized Sanskrit, including the five reversed letters, the subscribed letters ha, Sha, ma and a chung, plus the basic Sanskrit vowels.

mani input example

Text sample

This sample is from the beginning of the Four Medical Tantras (rgyud bzhi'i rnam bshad).

text sample

Get it!

Since the license permits modifying the font and documentation there are two packages available: the standard release (true type font + pdf manual) and the source release (fontographer source file + rtf manual). If you don't plan to modify the font and/or documentation, you will only need the standard release package.